“New York is one of few places that could help elevate a Mayweather fight even more than it already is,” said Espinoza of Mayweather, who never has fought in New York. “Floyd is intrigued by being the biggest and the best and being a trailblazer. Coming into the New York market in a way that no one has before would be very appealing.”
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As far back as December of 2011, prior to being dethroned as WBA/IBF junior welterweight beltholder following a disputed split-decision loss to Lamont Peterson, England’s Amir Khan said he had been training to make the rise into the welterweight division in order to challenge foes such as pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
With widely-reported speculation that final details have been worked out for Khan (28-3, 19 knockouts) to be named as early as this week to face Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) on May 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the fighting Pakistani addressed the notion that he would be a much more effective competitor at 147-pounds.
“I will tell you something, and you probably won’t believe this,” said Khan, who turned 27 on Dec. 8. “But I’m a huge 140-pounder and I’m still a big 147-pounder.”
Khan spoke to RingTV.com on Saturday night while standing ringside at Barclays Center in Brooklyn after having served as a Showtime commentator for Paulie Malignaggi’s unanimous decision over welterweight rival Zab Judah.
Both Malignaggi and Judah have suffered defeat at the hands of Khan, who debuted on American soil with an 11th-round knockout of Malignaggi as a junior welterweight at New York’s Madison Square Garden in May of 2010. Judah was stopped in the fifth round by Khan as a 140-pounder at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas in July of 2011.
Asked directly if he was in town to negotiate a deal with Golden Boy to face Mayweather, and whether he anticipated signing a deal, Khan said, “I swear to God, I’ve left that up to Golden Boy,” adding, “I just told them, ‘Yes, I would fight him,’ and left it up to Golden Boy to maybe get it done.”
“I would tell you what, I wish that I could get an answer from them because I’m in the same boat as you guys,” said Khan of Mayweather, who said that he could announce his rival as early as this week.
“I don’t know myself. At the end of the day, Floyd Mayweather’s the boss, and he is going to announce who he’s going to fight. I understand that he might do it this week. Let’s see. At the end of the day, styles make fights… I think that there’s a 60 percent chance that it could happen, at the end of the day.”
Although he has yet to compete as a true 147-pounder, Khan’s resume includes unanimous decisions over Marcos Maidana and former world titleholder Andrey Kotelnik, as well as a technical decision victory over Mexican great Marco Antonio Barrera.
In his past two bouts, Khan won by 10th-round knockout over Carlos Molina (not to be confused with the IBF junior middleweight titleholder of the same name) and by unanimous decision over former titleholder Julio Diaz.
“For the Diaz fight, the day before the weigh-in, I was still cut and ripped and I think I was weighing about 153 pounds. I was looking at myself and saying, ‘Man, how am I going to lose 10 pounds, because the fight was made at a catchweight of 143,” said Khan.
“I had to train three times to get to that weight. I’ve been doing that for the last couple of fights, and people don’t understand that. I like to always say that I’m making it easy, because I don’t want people to get it into their heads that I’m making excuses. I mean, look at me now, I’m at 155 pounds now, and I’m lean. I’m a strong guy, maybe I’m just big and heavy-boned. I’m not sure how long I could stay at 140.”
In order to position himself for a bout with Mayweather, Khan bypassed a shot at southpaw IBF welterweight beltholder Devon Alexander (25-2, 14 KOs), who was dethroned following Saturday night’s unanimous decision loss to Shawn Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs) on the Malignaggi-Judah card.
Porter was coming off September’s unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Diaz that made up for the draw they had in December of 2012. In between, Diaz dropped Khan in the fourth round of his loss a in April.
“A lot of people thought that I was done after the Diaz fight. But you have to understand that styles make fights, and Diaz fought well,” said Khan.
“Don’t forget that Diaz had that draw against this kid Porter, who just became a world champion tonight. Plus, the knockdown that happened against Diaz, I was never hurt.”
Khan would be looking for his third straight victory in as many fights under new trainer Virgil Hunter if he were to challenge Mayweather, who is also THE RING and WBC welterweight champion.
Khan was stopped in 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott in September of 2008 before reeling off eight consecutive victories, four of them by stoppage. Khan suffered consecutive losses to Peterson and Danny Garcia by split-decision and fourth-round knockout, respectively,
“First of all, when I was fighting Garcia, I was schooling him. But when it comes to boxing, I’ll school whoever they put in front of me, but I’ve gotten caught by some big shots, at times,” said Khan.
“Now, that’s because I’ve shown too much heart in some fights. In the Garcia fight, I should have stepped back and recovered for myself, but I didn’t. So I love it that people are taking me lightly. At the end of the day, though, these are all things that are part of the leaning curve in boxing, and I’ve only gotten better.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said during an earlier interview with RingTV.com that Khan would “have a huge crowd of Brits showing up wherever the fight would take place” if he were to face Mayweather, who turns 37 in February.
“One thing that we know is that it seems like size and power is not really going to help to solve the Floyd Mayweather puzzle. So maybe the one thing that can solve it is speed and skill. I’m not going to say that Amir Khan’s skills are better than Floyd Mayweather’s skills, because I believe that Floyd is, maybe, the most skilled fighter of any generation and of all time. He’s just the smartest guy in the ring,” said Schaefer, during that interview.
“I think that his ring generalship and his skills are unmatched. But what I am going to say is that from a speed point of view, Mayweather is very, very fast and has very fast hands, but I am going to say that Amir Khan’s hands and hand-speed is faster than Floyd Mayweather’s, and that his footwork is exceptional as well. So Amir has skills and he has speed, and in the speed category, he is faster than Floyd Mayweather. So we’ll have to see if that fight can be done.”
Photo / Jeff Gross-Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org